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Details Emerge as Twin Blasts in Mogadishu Are Investigated

  • VOA News

Somali police arrive at the Central Hotel after explosions were touched off by al-Shabab in Mogadishu, Feb. 20, 2015.

Somali police arrive at the Central Hotel after explosions were touched off by al-Shabab in Mogadishu, Feb. 20, 2015.

Somalia's government has released new details on Friday's al-Shabab attack on a popular hotel in Mogadishu, where at least 25 people were killed and more than 50 were wounded.

Somali Security Minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed told VOA's Somali service that the first of two bomb blasts came from a vehicle filled with explosives parked near the mosque of Mogadishu's Central Hotel. He said the second blast was set off by was a female suicide bomber who had worked at the hotel for eight months. Gunfire followed the two blasts.

Mohamed said an investigation was underway. On Friday, security agencies spokesman Qasin Ahmed Roble said a car filled with explosives had entered the hotel grounds during Friday prayers. He said officials were questioning hotel guards about who had detonated the explosives and how.

The hotel is popular with officials, including members of parliament and government ministers.

Mogadishu's deputy mayor, Mohamed Aden Guled, and Somali legislator Omar Ali Nor were among those killed in the attack, officials said.

Among the wounded were Somalia's deputy prime minister, Mohamed Omar Arte, and Transport and Aviation Minister Ali Ahmed Jama Jangali.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack via Twitter, calling the incident an "outrage" and saying his thoughts were with the injured. He met Saturday in Mogadishu with visiting Djibouti President Omar Guelleh.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Mohamud on Friday to express his condolences. A spokesman for Ban said the secretary believed "the terrorist attacks cannot deter the collective will of the Somali people to move forward, or the commitment of the United Nations."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also condemned the attack. "This murderous attack targeting government ministers and members of parliament once again highlights that al-Shabab stands only for death and destruction and is firmly opposed to the Somali people’s efforts to build a secure and prosperous future," she said.

Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Islamist extremist group has carried out repeated attacks on government and civilian targets in Somalia in recent years as part of what it says is an effort to establish its version of Islamic law.